Youth Seasons for Coues

Youth Seasons for Coues

Youth Seasons for Coues

by Colton Choate, Juniors-Only Editor

I have been on a couple successful Coues deer hunts and one unsuccessful one. My first Coues deer tag was a youth-only hunt in southern Arizona. In southern Arizona, youth-only hunts occur in October and again in mid-November. My first hunt was the later hunt in November. I saw several bucks over the three-day period that I had time off school to hunt. On the last morning of that hunt, I harvested a sweet first White-tailed deer, my first buck ever.

Youth Seasons for CouesThe following year, I applied for and drew a general season whitetail (Coues) tag. This hunt took place in late November and carried on into the early days of December. My dad also drew the tag, so on this hunt we had to try to find two shooter bucks. Again, we saw several bucks, but none of them were to my Dad’s liking. However, on the second to last day, we spotted a buck that was a borderline shooter. I contemplated for over an hour, whether or not to harvest this younger buck. Although it wasn’t a big buck, I decided to shoot it, putting my second Coues deer on the ground. Unfortunately, my Dad went home from that hunt empty handed.

This past year, I hunted Coues deer in Eastern Arizona, also a general season hunt with 750 tags. The moon phase challenged us throughout the hunt; we had trouble spotting deer every day. In fact, we didn’t see many deer at all. Over the hunt, we only saw two bucks; one decent, and one little two-point. I was able to take three shots at the bigger buck at over 400 yards, but did not connect, and I experienced my first unsuccessful Coues hunt. However, I did get to see the first mountain lion of my life, which was quite an experience.

Based on my experiences, here are a few tips for youth hunters wanting to apply for a Coues deer hunt in either Arizona or New Mexico.


Youth Seasons for CouesArizona has youth-only seasons for junior-hunters. In Arizona, a youth hunter is someone 10–17 years of age. Seventeen year olds may hunt during a youth-only hunt, through their 18th birthday, and may continue to hunt for the remainder of the hunt, if they turn 18 during a hunt. Youth hunters between the ages of 10-13 must have taken and passed a hunter education course to hunt legally. Once a youth hunter is 14 years of age or above, hunter safety is no longer a requirement.

Here are some benefits to youth hunts:

  • hunts are earlier, and deer have not been pressured
  • bucks tend to be “bachelored” together
  • the majority of youth-only tags are for any-antlered deer, with a few exceptions
  • less tags are issued, so less competition

Here are some disadvantages:

  • hunts occur well before the rut
  • warmer weather, which could mean seeing less deer
  • hunts do NOT occur in every Coues deer unit
  • less tags, making it more difficult to draw a tag

The range of tags issued for youth-only hunts is 50-175 tags. Youth-only hunts do NOT occur during the rut. The range of tags issued for general season hunts is 25-800 for whitetail hunts. One benefit of a general season tag is that a parent/grandparent may sign down the tag to a family member that meets the youth qualifications. Another benefit of general season hunts is that there are several rut hunts for Coues deer. However, these tags are difficult to draw.

Additionally, Arizona offers over-the-counter archery tags, available to all licensed hunters. The archery season begins on January 1; opens again in late August through mid-September, and opens again in mid-December through the end of the year. An OTC archery tag is valid for any open unit across all seasons.

New Mexico

Youth Seasons for CouesNew Mexico also offers both youth-only and general season hunts for junior-hunters. In New Mexico, the definition of a youth hunter is someone under the age of 18, by the day of the hunt. In New Mexico, all youth hunters must have passed a hunter safety course in order to hunt with a firearm; hunter education courses from other states apply.

Here are some benefits to youth hunts:

  • December youth hunts are closer to the rut
  • longer hunts that include several weekends

Here are some disadvantages:

  • no OTC tags, archery tags must be drawn; hunters can only draw one hunt type (rifle, muzzleloader or archery)
  • in some cases, youth hunts are concurrent with general season hunts in the same unit
  • deer have been hunted and pressured

In New Mexico, the approximate number of tags issued for both youth-only and general season hunts for White-tailed deer is approximately 25-100 tags.

New Mentored-Youth Hunter Program

The new Mentored-Youth Hunter Program offers first-time hunters under 18 years of age the opportunity to apply for and purchase a hunting license. After completion of a simplified online training course, youth may obtain a temporary registration number to hunt under the supervision of an adult mentor. At all times while hunting, Mentored-Youth Hunters and their mentor must be in sight and unaided, audible distance from one another. Mentors must be legally licensed adult hunters who are 18 years of age or older and either a parent or guardian or an adult with parental consent. Mentored-Youth Hunter registration is valid only once for two-consecutive license years.

At the end of the second license year, each Mentored-Youth Hunter under 18 years of age is required to complete the full Hunter Education Course in order to purchase a Game-hunting License or Game-hunting & Fishing License and apply for draw hunts.

For information visit: or telephone toll-free: 1-888-248-6866.

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